- The Rationality of Interdependence vs. Independence (+ Self-Reliance + Inter-Reliance)
- The Rationality of Uncertainty
- The Rationality of Literacy
- It’s Not What You Think It Is
- The Irrationality of Irrationality
- For some, we get lost in media
- What are you going to do about it?
- Should You be Concerned about the Rate of Literacy if Over 99% Are Illiterate?
- The Rationality of Intimacy
- You can reach me at the Internet
- The Rationality of Buzz
- Global Languages (and/or Classification Schemes) + Generic Top Level Domains (TLDs)
- Auctions + Markets for Domains, Domain Names + TLDs
- Anti-Dis-Establishment-Arian-Ism + AntiDisInterMediaTion
- The Rationality of Algorithms: Facebook Algorithm, Google Algorithms or No Algorithm at All?
- The Spectre of Populism
- The Unanswered Questions
- The Domain Name is the Medium
- Sign My Guestbook + The Rationality of the Written Word
- The Rationality of Ignorance
- Don’t Listen to One Single Piece of Good Advice — Listen to Many
- Spam Index, Shopping Catalog & Co. – An Introduction to Anti-Social Rationality
- Rational Media + Literacy
- The Big Data Rationality of Large Numbers: Quantitative Statistics + Fanatical Delusions
- The Rationality of Large Numbers
- The Ubiquity of the Text Box (excursus)
- Literacy and Machine Readability: Some First Attempts at a Derivation of the Primary Implications for Rational Media
- Fundamental Principles of Rational Media
- First Essay on Rational Media
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When I was learning science in high school, I was mesmerized by the notion that scientific facts were true, myths were false, and there were still things that needed to be „figured out“. I was very impressed by the way computers were all about 1’s and 0’s (it wasn’t until much later that I learned computers didn’t actually divide truth and falsehood quite that neatly). Several years ago, I made a graphic image that shows the difference between the way it appears that humans think vs. the way it appears that computers think.
Note that I didn’t label which side represents human thinking vs. computer thinking. What we usually experience when we use computers is either TRUE or FALSE – we are not normally aware that there is actually a „DON’T KNOW“ state in between those two extremes. About a decade ago, I was very adamant about three-state logics.
Several decades ago, when I was just embarking on dissertation research (which was never finished, but that story is beyond the scope of this article), I was very adamant about something called „modal logic“ – a field in philosophy (and linguistics) which focuses on human modes of thought (such as „knowing“ vs. „believing“). Since humans often make references to such modes, I was hoping to unlock a hidden treasure behind such concepts. Yet they remain elusive to me to this day, even though I may quite often be heard to utter something like „I think…“ or „I believe…“ or indeed many such modes (usually using so-called „modal verbs“).
I think the less room we allow for such modalities – the smaller the amount of space we make for cases in which we acknowledge that we really don’t know, the more likely we are to make mistakes / errors.
Statisticians might be very cool to acknowledge „type 1“ and „type 2“ errors without even batting an eyelash, but for most regular folks it makes a world of difference whether we want X, whether we fear Y, whether we hope or wish or whatever.
Such very human modes of thought are rampant in our everyday lives and thinking, yet they are not given very much (or even any) room in the computer world. When there is no room whatsoever for „maybe“, then I predict the algorithms processing the data will probably be wrong.
My friend Jean Russell shared a really fascinating meme the other day on facebook. The main gist of the idea was that “you are what you think”… such that rather than “I am what you think I am”, in fact “you are what you think I am”.
This is a very powerful message — and yet there seems to be another message hidden behind the surface: Many things are not what you think they are. Some people also use the phrase “the map is not the territory” to draw attention to this phenomenon.
Yet many people make this exact mistake, often many times over — I guess sort of non-stop. Let me give you an example.
When I warn people about the dangers of relying too heavily on Google (or even about the dangers of using it at all — see also “Definition: How to Define “Retard Media”“), they often respond with “what do you have against the Internet?” or maybe “well, I don’t rely exclusively on the Internet”. These people apparently don’t realize that Google is not the Internet (neither is Facebook, nor Wikipedia or any other individual website).
In a similar vein, there is a podcast called “No Agenda” that purports to be all about media deconstruction. I enjoy listening to this podcast very much, but as far as I know neither of the creators of the show have ever given a functional operational definition of what they consider to be media (versus “not media”). As it is, they primarily deconstruct television programming (and also TV ads). But they sometimes also analyze websites (such as facebook.com and/or google.com) — but not all websites… so which websites? Their limited view of media distorts the usefulness of their information — to put it simply: because they deconstruct some things, but not everything.
Granted: deconstructing everything would be a quite formidable task… and it may even be impossible. But since they do not explicitly delineate what it is they want to deconstruct, the result is that the selection of what they do actually deconstruct may very well be quite biased. That is sad, because otherwise I would say that their approach is refreshing and insightful.